Solo practice

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omar1

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Solo practice

Postby omar1 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:43 pm

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Last edited by omar1 on Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mushybrain

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Re: Solo practice

Postby mushybrain » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:53 pm

It seems like if you can't look up these very basic fundamental issues, solo practice is an awful idea. So in conclusion, yes to the malpractice insurance.

omar1

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Re: Solo practice

Postby omar1 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:58 pm

mushybrain wrote:It seems like if you can't look up these very basic fundamental issues, solo practice is an awful idea. So in conclusion, yes to the malpractice insurance.

Thanks for being soooo helpful... I was able to look up these issues, I asked because I would like to get some perspective from someone who perhaps has been in a similar situation.

HonestAdvice

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Re: Solo practice

Postby HonestAdvice » Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:02 pm

If you're the only employee then I don't know how incorporating helps you. I think most states require you to have malpractice insurance, but I'm not sure. The truth is those forms aren't very complicated, and it's unrealistic to expect them to feed you work for very long. If it was me I would be trying to build relaitonships with the clients. If they have estates then they may have businesses, and you may be able to transition to doing more lucrative work. Further, if you have a book of business other lawyers would want to work for you.

despina

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Re: Solo practice

Postby despina » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:20 pm

"Naturalization papers" are NOT "very basic." Yes, the forms themselves are easy to fill out (if the client is prepared with all the information, which she never is). But if you mess up, you can get somebody being deported and permanently barred from ever re-entering the US, charged with criminal immigration fraud, or just waste their time and money and have to wait several years to apply again.

Do you know how to screen for somebody's criminal record to determine whether she is barred or just has some explaining to do? If there is explaining to do, can you make a complex legal argument for why a conviction for X in state Y is not an "aggravated felony"? Do you know how to read a 300-page FOIA to determine what happened in somebody's immigration court proceedings, entries and exits, etc? Do you know how to spot issues that could result not just in denial, but in your client being placed into deportation proceedings?

If you're supervised by an experienced immigration attorney, you'll learn how to do all these things. You should NOT do immigration as a solo practitioner just starting out, especially if you're "dabbling" in other areas as well.

Redfactor

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Re: Solo practice

Postby Redfactor » Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:46 pm

despina wrote:"Naturalization papers" are NOT "very basic." Yes, the forms themselves are easy to fill out (if the client is prepared with all the information, which she never is). But if you mess up, you can get somebody being deported and permanently barred from ever re-entering the US, charged with criminal immigration fraud, or just waste their time and money and have to wait several years to apply again.

Do you know how to screen for somebody's criminal record to determine whether she is barred or just has some explaining to do? If there is explaining to do, can you make a complex legal argument for why a conviction for X in state Y is not an "aggravated felony"? Do you know how to read a 300-page FOIA to determine what happened in somebody's immigration court proceedings, entries and exits, etc? Do you know how to spot issues that could result not just in denial, but in your client being placed into deportation proceedings?

If you're supervised by an experienced immigration attorney, you'll learn how to do all these things. You should NOT do immigration as a solo practitioner just starting out, especially if you're "dabbling" in other areas as well.


There is nothing to suggest that s/he is going to go out and commit malpractice. The OP appears reasonably conscious of not biting off more than s/he can chew. And yes, anytime that you're attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole, things can become complicated. But that's true for every area of the law.

Furthermore, in most every area of law, failure to do decent work can severely impact the client. Immigration law is not special in this regard.

You are not the lawyer police. Relax.

despina

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Re: Solo practice

Postby despina » Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:55 pm

Immigration law is not special in being complex. It is "special" in that it seems to attract unsupervised dabblers who think that "it's just filling out forms" and who are totally unable to screen for complex red flags.

If somebody said "I want to start a solo practice and learn to do naturalization applications" I'd say "yay, go for it, make sure that you join your professional org, have a go-to attorney to answer questions, have somebody experienced screen your cases for the first while," etc.

When somebody says "I want to do a bunch of different types of things, I think naturalization is 'very basic,' I don't even know if I need malpractice insurance, I'm only going to be doing this a few hours per week" all my alarm bells go off.

Redfactor

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Re: Solo practice

Postby Redfactor » Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:29 pm

despina wrote:Immigration law is not special in being complex. It is "special" in that it seems to attract unsupervised dabblers who think that "it's just filling out forms" and who are totally unable to screen for complex red flags.

If somebody said "I want to start a solo practice and learn to do naturalization applications" I'd say "yay, go for it, make sure that you join your professional org, have a go-to attorney to answer questions, have somebody experienced screen your cases for the first while," etc.

When somebody says "I want to do a bunch of different types of things, I think naturalization is 'very basic,' I don't even know if I need malpractice insurance, I'm only going to be doing this a few hours per week" all my alarm bells go off.


Seriously, get off your high horse.

1) OP is an attorney. Having a supervisor is a blessing, but it is by no means a requirement. S/he is no longer in law school; training wheels are not required. Clearly, OP wants to do solo work. Stop lecturing the importance of a supervisor -- not everyone chooses that route, and that's okay.

2) You've projected that OP is "dabbling," yet nowhere did OP make such flippant comments. Not doing something full time =/= doing it poorly or not taking it seriously.

You and I have the exact same knowledge of OP's abilities as an attorney -- none. Yet somehow you write as though OP is irresponsible to consider doing some naturalization processes as part of his/her practice if it doesn't entail your list of safeguards.

But I am guessing that your opinion is based on decades of practice in immigration law? Yeah, I thought not.

You are not the lawyer police. Relax.

despina

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Re: Solo practice

Postby despina » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:20 pm

If doing multiple areas of law for "4-5 hours a week" on top of a full time job isn't "dabbling," I don't know what is.

Someone who considers naturalization "very basic" clearly knows nothing about naturalization, and so s/he needs a mentor to screen and review or s/he's almost certainly committing malpractice.

I'm not lawyer police, but I've had too many clients' lives ruined and families separated by well-meaning, smart lawyers who just had no idea what they were doing.

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reasonable_man

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Re: Solo practice

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:49 pm

This is a terrific "How To" start/build/thrive as a solo. A poster on JDU wrote this a few years back. The guy is legit and knows what he is talking about. I can't imagine you're going to have a question that isn't answered in this guide:

http://www.younglawyersguide.com/

This may run contrary to the advice you get find in the guide noted above. But forming a PC is pretty simple in most states and can't hurt. It won't shield you from malpractice liability, but it will insulate you from liability for ordinary debts (assuming you don't sign a personal guarantee. And malpractice insurance for what you're planning on doing is probably fairly cheap. I'd look into it. Shop around a bit. Finally, call Westlaw and Lexis - solo rates for access are very reasonable. Don't let them upsell you. You need access to basic forms, state caselaw, your state's version of the Pattern Jury Instructions and maybe one or two solid state treatises (at most) and frankly, you can do without the treatises if they are too costly.

Caveat. I'm not a solo. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Redfactor

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Re: Solo practice

Postby Redfactor » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:25 pm

despina wrote:If doing multiple areas of law for "4-5 hours a week" on top of a full time job isn't "dabbling," I don't know what is.

Someone who considers naturalization "very basic" clearly knows nothing about naturalization, and so s/he needs a mentor to screen and review or s/he's almost certainly committing malpractice.

I'm not lawyer police, but I've had too many clients' lives ruined and families separated by well-meaning, smart lawyers who just had no idea what they were doing.


I have sympathy.

Is it possible that you're projecting deficiencies onto the OP due to secondary trauma? OP hasn't harmed anyone; no need to assume s/he will.

Immigration law is definitely in need of attorneys willing to take these types of cases at affordable rates. More attorneys assisting immigrants in accessing justice is a good thing; let's not forget that many people fill out N-400 applications without legal help. To me, that is a greater danger than a young attorney looking to get into the practice.

I submit that your second statement is patently false.

I will take you at your word that you've had clients who've been disadvantaged in immigration proceedings due to poor legal representation. Bad attorneys are everywhere. However, the way you write still suggests that you are very early in your legal career and that your talk is bigger than your walk. I highly doubt you are a seasoned practitioner. Your writing sounds a lot like "I did a clinic/externship/summer in law school and I know what I'm talking about."

Don't be so judgmental as to people's practice when you have nothing to gauge it on.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Solo practice

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:40 pm

Eh, my experience jives with despina's.

omar1

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Re: Solo practice

Postby omar1 » Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:04 pm

I didn't want to go into details about, for example, the "naturalization papers," as my question was more about solo practice and not the practice of law itself, but I do know what I'm doing (and there's a "secretary" at that org. who has been doing this "basic" filling out of papers for many years, so I'm not worried about messing stuff up). I know what I'm getting into, but thanks for the concern.

And thanks for providing the website reasonable_man! :)

HonestAdvice

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Re: Solo practice

Postby HonestAdvice » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:59 pm

Just don't get Babu sent back to Pakistan

despina

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Re: Solo practice

Postby despina » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:50 pm

omar1 wrote:I do know what I'm doing (and there's a "secretary" at that org. who has been doing this "basic" filling out of papers for many years, so I'm not worried about messing stuff up). I know what I'm getting into, but thanks for the concern.


Glad to hear it, and my apologies if my comments were distracting from the point of the thread, or if they came across as a personal insult to you. As I've said, this issue gets a strong emotional reaction from me because of the consequences I've seen in my clients' lives. I can't resist saying -- it sounds like you know this already, but in case someone else is reading this later on having searched the forums for "immigration law" or something -- a secretary who has experience filling out forms is an awesome resource. It's not a substitute for supervision of an experienced attorney who can spot and solve problems like prior immigration violations, fraud, criminal bars, etc.

Since folks have asked about my own experience -- nope, I don't hold myself out as an expert with decades of experience. I have almost a year of post-bar practice, plus two years of clinical experience, plus about a year and a half as an immigration paralegal, plus some time before that staffing an immigrants' rights organization. So, not enough experience to be an expert on immigration law, but enough to see the damage that notarios and dabblers can do to people's lives, and enough to have made my own mistakes and realize how drastically I could have messed up somebody's life if I hadn't had a senior attorney to catch the issue I didn't spot.



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